Here's an interesting bit of news. At a recent shareholders' meeting, Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida announced that the company is still interested in developing a unified DVD format.
Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) said on Tuesday it would still like to develop a unified format for advanced optical DVD discs, but two competing -- and incompatible -- products are likely to hit the market at first.

Toshiba is a leading proponent of next-generation HD DVD optical disc technology, which competes with the Blu-ray standard promoted by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news). (6758.T) and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (6752.T), a maker of Panasonic brand electronics.

"We have not given up on a unified format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told an annual shareholders' meeting.
This late in the game, we're not going to see a unified format. Both sides have already invested a lot of time and money developing and promoting Blu-ray and HD DVD. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Panasonic has announced that they will be launching a Blu-ray Disc authoring service on July 1st. Using Panasonic's state-of-the-art Blu-ray Disc authoring equipment, movie studios will be able to produce titles with 1080p-quality video and advanced interactivity.
Panasonic, the brand for which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is known, announced today that it will commence Blu-ray Disc entertainment title (for Blu-ray Disc read-only media, or BD-ROM) authoring service for movie studios at Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) in Universal City, California on July 1. Optical discs, like Blu-ray Disc, or conventional DVDs, need to have their content authored as a step toward physical replication of the disc as an entertainment title.

As Panasonic and other electronics manufacturers plan to introduce Blu-ray Disc players this year, Blu-ray titles from the major movie studios are expected to become increasingly available for consumers. The BD-ROM authoring service launched by Panasonic will facilitate the production of Blu-ray Disc titles, so that consumers can experience High-Definition movie entertainment at home.
If you'd like to read more, Panasonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
CDRLabs has taken an in depth look at Plextor's new 18x DVD±RW, the PX-760A. This highly anticipated drive features some of the fastest reading and writing speeds available. The PX-760A is capable of 18x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 10x DVD+R DL and 6x DVD-R DL writing speeds and has a maximum DVD read speed of 16x. It also supports many of the features we've come to expect from Plextor, including a number of more advanced technologies like GigaRec, Q-Check and AUTOSTRATEGY.

In this review we'll take a look at the features found on the PX-760A and see how it compares to some of the DVD±RW drives from the competition. Are 18x DVD±R writing speeds enough to put the PX-760A on top? You'll have to read the review to find out.

Plextor PX-760A 18x DVD±RW
As usual, if you have any comments or questions about this review or the Plextor PX-760A, please post them in the forum using the link provided below.
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The results are in and our readers have chosen the BenQ DW1655 as the top DVD writer for the month of May. Here are the top four drives:
  1. BenQ DW1650/1655
  2. BenQ DW1640
  3. Pioneer DVR-111/A11
  4. NEC ND-4550A/4551A
Your favorite drive didn't make it onto the list? Then go and vote for June's top DVD writer. Add a comment
This morning, NVIDIA announced their new PureVideo HD technology. Combining high definition features with HDCP support, PureVideo HP promises to provide cinematic-quality Blu-ray and HD DVD movie playback on a PC.
NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA) today unveiled PureVideo HD technology, which delivers outstanding HD DVD and Blu-ray movie playback on PCs. PureVideo HD combines hardware acceleration from an NVIDIA graphics processing unit, high definition movie player integration and HDCP feature support to make it easy for manufacturers and consumers to build powerhouse PCs that can play HD DVD or Blu-ray movies. As a result, consumers will be able to enjoy a stunning high-definition movie experience on their PCs.
If you'd like to read more, NVIDIA's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Sony isn't the only company with a Blu-ray equipped PC on the way. Alienware has announced that their new Aurora 7500 and Aurora ALX desktop systems will also feature Blu-ray Disc technology.

Alienware -- the leading manufacturer of high-performance desktop, notebook, media center, servers and professional systems -- will offer AMD LIVE!(TM) branded Aurora(TM) 7500 and Aurora ALX desktop systems, enabling users to consolidate their photos, videos, music, and movies in one place while accessing all of it through their TVs, game consoles, MP3 players, cell phones, and other common digital devices. In addition, Aurora 7500, Area-51 7500, and ALX desktop systems are now featuring Blu-ray storage technology, a breakthrough optical disc format that delivers a maximum storage capacity of 50GB on a single dual-layer disc.
According to Alienware's website, the Aurora 7500 and Aurora ALX will ship in mid-June. More information can be found here. Add a comment
While those of us at CDRLabs are taking it easy, enjoying Memorial Day, the guys at CD Freaks have put together a review of Plextor's new 18x DVD±RW, the PX-760A. Here's a sample of what they had to say:
The Plextor PX-760A has excellent DVD±R writing performance, with its 18x writing speed cutting the time taken to burn this media type. Setting aside the 18x writing speed, the Plextor PX-760A 16x and 12x burns return very respectable writing times.

The Plextor PX-760A can write most DVD±R with very good quality. PoweRec and Auto Strategy assured the best results possible over our range of tested media.
If you'd like to read more, the entire review can be found here. Add a comment
Macrovision has announced that their analog content protection (ACP) technology has been selected by the AACS LA to protect next-generation formats like Blu-ray and HD DVD. Here's part of their press release:
Macrovision Corporation (Nasdaq:MVSN - News) today announced that its analog content protection technology (ACP) has been included as a requirement in the specification for the content protection technology for next-generation optical media content such as Blu-ray and HD DVD by the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA). This announcement expands Macrovision's leadership in content protection for entertainment content to next-generation, high-definition media formats.

With this agreement, Macrovision's ACP will be included in the latest AACS LA protection specification release, the Advanced Access Content System, which manages content stored on the next generation of prerecorded and recordable optical media for consumer use with PCs and CE devices. Using Macrovision's ACP solution, movie studios and consumer electronics companies will be able to protect content on next-generation optical discs from analog piracy and consumers will be able to enjoy the enhanced quality of these next-generation formats.
The movie studios are really trying to cover all their bases. With ACP, you won't even be able to make low quality, analog copies of HD titles. If you'd like to read more, Macrovision's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
The DVD Forum held their 34th Steering Committee meeting earlier this week. Among other things, the group approved a number of specifications and decided upon a logo for HD DVD-RW DL media. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting:
  • Approval of "DVD Specifications for High Density Recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-R for DL) File System Specifications, Version 2.0"
  • Approval of
    "-DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) Physical Specifications, Version 1.0
    -DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 1.0"
  • Approval of
    "-DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) Physical Specifications, Version 2.0
    -DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 1.0"
  • Approval of "Logo/Mark for HD DVD-RW Dual Layer"

  • Approval of "To begin to develop Physical Specifications for China only HD DVD-ROM format in WG-11 ad hoc while China Sub Committee resolves policy issues"
  • Approval of
    "HD DVD RPC Ad hoc group to work with appropriate WGs to develop a specification and enforcement plan for RPC on HD DVD-Video including region map and requirements in consultation with the studios"
Like Blu-ray, HD DVD will also be getting region controls. It will be interesting to see how this will effect existing HD DVD players as they do not support this feature. If you'd like to read more, the Steering Committee's entire list of resolutions can be found here. Add a comment
According to an article at Ars Technica, Hollywood studios have agreed to delay forced quality downgrades until at least 2010. This means that even if you don't have HDMI, you can still enjoy HD video for at least a few years.
The conundrum isn't apparently lost on the consumer electronics industry or Hollywood. According to German-language Spiegel Online, there is reportedly a behind-the-scenes, unofficial agreement between Hollywood and some consumer electronics manufacturers, including Microsoft and Sony, not to use ICT until 2010, or possibly even 2012. Without providing more details, the report suggests that Hollywood isn't exactly happy with the situation, and could very well renege on the agreement, such that it is. But the agreement is there nonetheless, presumably to help the industry transition to HDMI. This could explain why the very same studios that pushed for HDMI and ICT have recently announced that they would not use it for the time being.
This is definitely good news for consumers. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found website. Add a comment